Monday, April 27, 2009

Man-centered tract

I found a new tract to hand out to hardened criminals in prison. They melt and tear up reading about how special they are. I'm being fecicious of course, but when I found Crossway's tracts when browsing their books/Bibles, this one was striking in it's man-centered approach.

Here are some of the quotes (my comments in green).
  • "Believe it or not—no one else is just like you." - I learned this watching Mr Rogers.
  • "He loves you and me so much; yet how often we go our own way, turning our backs on Him. God’s designs for our lives are then blocked; (emphasis mine.)" - Wow, this statement is stunning! Man is sovereign and can thwart God's designs?!?
  • "God is not an unfeeling, cold-hearted monarch of the heavens." - unfeeling, cold-hearted no, but He's definitely an absolute monarch. Just ask the de-throned Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:34-35)
  • "the Bible says, 'not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation [full payment] for our sins' (1 John 4:10)." - The 'full payment' in brackets just doesn't seem right. Doesn't propitiation mean satisfying or averting the wrath of God? How can you leave that part out?
  • "When we trust in Jesus Christ and let Him put our lives together, the Bible says that we become 'God’s masterpieces, created in Christ Jesus' (Ephesians 2:10, paraphrase). Can anyone be more special than that?" - This paraphrase of Eph 2:10 leaves off the 'unto good works' at the end. Are we afraid we'll scare off potential converts if we imply there is a cost to following Christ? (Luke 14:25-26)
This tract makes you feel so warm and fuzzy, unbelievers could almost forget they are under God's wrath (John 3:36), apart from God's grace! The seriousness of sin is never communicated, leaving the impression that Christ is just a nice add-on to improve this life. The sad thing is, this was touted as the top-seller on Crossway's website.

God's creation is beautiful and marvelously sophisticated, including mankind. We are 'fearfully and wonderfully made' (Psalm 139:14). But since the fall we have been under a curse. Ephesians 2:1-3 describe us accurately.

A well-known theologian pointed out how Christ used the law as a mirror. He would bring up the ten commandments to show people how they are not good people after all. Rather than flattering them and enticing them with God's abundant love (which is abundant indeed for His elect), sometimes they would go away sorrowful (Matthew 19:16-22), even when they were came to Him searching to take their spirituality to 'the next level'.

On this theme, Jim Elliff has written an article called,"You don't look so good" which has the opposite approach from the 'You're Special' tract. This article is an excerpt from Pursuing God, his great book explaining authentic faith in Christ. You can download the audiobook for free on WayToGod!

Let us love the lost enough to tell them that they don't look so good, at least not from God's perfect perspective. Unlike Mr Rogers, Christ doesn't like us just the way we are. He is infinitely more loving than that!
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? ... And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9,11)

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Here is my testimony: mike